Love Serves

Through the month of February I’ve tried to identify some of the telling marks of genuine love. We started with the frank reminder that Love Does Hard Things—sometimes in the attic, other times in the counseling room, and most anywhere else.

Among all of the marks of genuineness, one of the easiest to overlook is that Love Listens. Your attention is a pretty good indicator of what you truly love.

One of the less comfortable realities is that Love Submits. The Apostle Paul was very pointed when he wrote that we should be “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Then we sat in the plain truth of the nature of love to do what is best for the one loved. Love Gives. It’s simple, but it’s not easy.

We’re ending this particular exploration today by landing on the most visible part of genuine love—that love serves.

My affinity for love songs is well-documented, but one of the exceptional tunes I’ve examined along the way sticks in my mind in an unusual way. John Legend’s perpetual smoothness gives a buttery texture to a jagged little pill. He sings:

Actions speak louder than love songs.”

John Legend, “Actions”

That’s true, of course. It doesn’t matter how many songs you sing or gestures you produce if the day to day actions of love are missing.

Love serves.

In the famous love discourse in 1 Corinthians 13, we see this simple phrase, “it does not insist on its own way.” I think the idea here is that love, in its genuine expression, is focused on the one loved not on the one loving.

But what does that really look like?

It looks like doing the things that are needed for the one you love. It looks like choosing them over yourself. It looks like serving, not just talking.

Love serves.

But here is the thing that a lot of us—particularly followers of Jesus—tend to miss; it is the freedom to serve or not that makes it so valuable.

When we do things to care for our spouse in hopes of getting something in return or producing a certain kind of response, isn’t that ultimately self-serving? When we are genuinely serving our partner or our family members or our neighbors or a stranger… doesn’t love just express itself in the serving?

Love serves.

As Paul was writing what we believe what his earliest letter that we have in the Scriptures, he was addressing some followers of Jesus that were being sucked into a very legalistic, outward-appearance focused perversion of faith. As he reminded them of the glorious freedom we have through Jesus, he shared this slightly limiting warning:

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Galatians 5.13

Did you catch that? Yes, we are free. Love serves—but not by sheer compulsion or legal compliance. We are free, but love chooses to serve others instead of self.

Love serves.

So… I have to ask you to pause and consider with me for a moment. Who are the people around you that you are called to love? (If you’re a follower of Jesus, you know quite well that it is ALL of them, right?)

How can you serve the people around you—not to be noticed, not to be praised, not to win favor—because of the love in your heart for God and for everyone created in His image?

Cool. Go do that. Why?

Love serves.

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